The magnificent red buttes and mesas of Monument Valley have been immortalized in countless Western movies since John Ford first shot ‘Stagecoach’ here in 1938, in such a way that they have become an instantly recognized icon of international cinematography. Perhaps the film that best sums up the freedom and wide open spaces of this place is Ridley Scott’s ‘Thelma & Louise’...
You can see the vast sweep of this stunning valley from the comfort of your vehicle as you drive by the towering formations, this is a perfectly good way to view Monument Valley if time is pressing, especially if shortly before a sunset which here is truly a wonder to behold.
There are lots of activities open to you so that you can better appreciate this incredible place. For $3, the easiest way is to simply drive into the park along the self-guided marked valley road which runs unpaved for 17 miles and allows you to drive amongst some of the most celebrated formations such as the Totem Pole, an amazingly thin spire which rises 470 feet high. Please note that no off-road hiking is allowed unless you have a tour guide with you.
Some of the remote areas are only accessible with a Navajo guide, who can be booked in the Tribal Park visitor centre. Jeep and horseback riding tours start at around $30 and can last from 1 ½ hours to all day--though not necessarily during the winter. These can take you past specific rock formations, petroglyphs and to traditional Navajo hogans (houses). Options include sunrise and sunset tours, overnight camping, photography tours, and cookouts.
Nearest accommodation and services include the Mitten View Campground in the Tribal Park and Goulding’s Lodge just inside the Utah border which is the only hotel nearby. Goulding’s also has a Museum documenting the films that have been made at Monument Valley, and a Trading Post in ‘20s style with a store, petrol station, and tour booking. Kayenta to the south also has several motel chain outlets such as a Holiday Inn and Best Western, etc., as well as petrol stations and stores.